This past week I was invited out to the Jet and Powermatic press event in Nashville, Tennessee. If you can believe it, some people consider me press! haha. So I hopped on a plane headed for Music City! The event was held at a very cool place called Fort Houston: a facility that provides workspace and classes for local craftspeople. It features a full woodworking shop, bike shop, photography studio, and plenty of general workspace. For a monthly fee, you can take advantage of all of their services and tools. Numerous small woodworking business are getting their feet on the ground without having to make a huge investment in their own tools. Frankly, I wish every major city had something like this as it truly is an incredible resource run by some energetic and forward-thinking people. It’s good for the community and good for the country as a whole!
As excited as I was by Fort Houston, my real purpose for being there was the tools. JET/Powermatic decided not to attend AWFS this year in favor of this private event so I couldn’t wait to see what they had in store. Most of the tools that were unveiled were under the JET brand and it seems like the company is really trying to cement JET’s presence as a top-tier solution for the average Joe/Jane woodworker. JET had me worried a few years ago with some of their lower-end offerings as it appeared like they were participating in that dreaded “race to the bottom.” Thankfully, these new tools appear to be rock solid and easily exceed the quality level I have come to expect from JET.
You’ve heard me say before that I am not a tool reviewer and getting deep into machine specs makes me want to take a nice long nap. So I’m going to show you some pictures of the tools I found most interesting. I’ll drop in the specs, say something insightful and witty (or not), and let you do the comparing and contrasting with other tools for yourself.
First up is the Powermatic PM1000. As you might gather from the model number, this saw is a step down from the PM2000. It offers many of the same features and benefits of the full-size cabinet saw yet runs on 115V power. The fit and finish were every bit as good as the PM2000 from what I could see in my limited time with the tool. The Accu-Fence was smooth and sturdy and locked down just as well as any other high quality Biesemeyer style fence system. Other features include an arbor lock for easy blade changes, a miter gauge that’s actually worth a damn, a poly-v belt for reduced vibration, and a fairly standard splitter/blade guard assembly. The saw will come in two versions: 30″ rip capacity (#1791000K) for $1999.99 and 52″ rip capacity (#1791001K) for $2099.99.
I love the fact that more and more companies are offering these “industrial-style” bandsaws in the 14″ size range. Many folks in smaller shops have no need of a massive bandsaw, yet they might want the dependability and various upgrades that come with the bigger saws. JET’s new 14″ model appears to be made with power and accuracy in mind and doesn’t skimp on features. It has a 13 1/2″ resaw height as well as 13 1/2″ blade-to-frame cutting width. The motor is 1 3/4 HP and 115V. The table is 21 1/2″ x 16″ and features a micro-adjustable extruded aluminum fence measuring a “nice to have” 6″ in height. Other features include tension quick release, dual 4″ dust ports, and an impressive bearing guide system. The saw also has an adjustable aluminum insert than can be leveled to the table surface with set screws. The unit (#714500) will retail for $1899.99.
Oddly enough, this was one of the things I was most excited by. What can I say? I like things that make my tools sharp! The new bench grinder was made with woodworkers in mind. The speed is set at 1725 rpm and instead of flimsy tool rests, this unit features sturdy oversized rests that are easily adjustable to the nearest degree. Perhaps the coolest feature is the included grinding wheels from Norton: 80 grit 3X Blue Ceramic Alumina K for coarse grinding and a 100 grit White Aluminum Oxide wheel for finish grinding. How nice is it to buy a grinder whose wheels don’t immediately need replacing! This unit is by no means inexpensive ($329.99) but you should keep in mind that it does come with two high quality wheels (valued around $85 from what my research tells me).
JET also made an update to their line of mini lathes which brings with it some nice improvements so be on the lookout for that. We also received a behind the scenes look at some of the designs coming down the line including a major update to Jet’s drill press and drum sander line. I can’t say much about those two things but it certainly looks promising!
So what do you think? Any of these tools have you excited?